UTMC Regional Event Addresses Urban Transition Challenges in Mediterranean Region, Western Balkans, and Türkiye 

Barcelona, November 10, 2023 – The Urban Transitions Mission Centre (UTMC) organized a regional event on November 9, 2023, as part of the Smart City Expo World Congress (SCEWC), focusing on addressing urban transition challenges in the Mediterranean region, Western Balkans, and Türkiye. The event aimed to facilitate collaboration among cities, policymakers, and governments to find innovative solutions for their urban transitions. 

The gathering, held in collaboration with the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) and MedCities, attracted experts and representatives from cities including Chefchaouen and Agadir (Morocco), Cairo (Egypt), Irbid (Jordan), Dubrovnik (Croatia), Skopje (Northern Macedonia), Tirana (Albania), and Mersin (Türkiye). 

The event built on the briefing of the UfM Urban Development Ministers by the Urban Transition Mission (UTM) on May 4, 2023, in Zagreb, Croatia, and the UfM information webinar on July 4, 2023. 

Key Learnings from City Representatives

City representatives shared valuable insights into the needs of cities during their urban transitions: 

  • International Collaboration and Co-Ownership: Cities require robust international collaboration based on trust and mutual ownership to effectively address urban challenges and leverage cross-border knowledge and expertise. 
  • Flexible Action Plans: Cities need a clear and shared vision accompanied by a flexible and adaptable action plan that can respond to changing circumstances and emerging challenges. 
  • Tailored Training and Capacity Building: Tailored training programs are essential to address specific needs and build capacity, enabling cities to implement innovative and sustainable urban development strategies effectively. 
  • Access to Data and Tools: Cities need access to reliable data, innovative tools, and services to support informed decision-making and optimize urban management practices. 
  • Empowerment to Innovate: Cities should be empowered to innovate and develop solutions tailored to their unique contexts, fostering a culture of innovation and collaboration within their communities. 
  • Community Participation: Active participation of communities is crucial to ensure that urban transitions are inclusive, equitable, and responsive to the needs of all residents. 
  • Inclusive Governance and Planning: Inclusive governance and planning processes are crucial for fair representation of all urban stakeholders, including marginalized groups. 
  • Political Will: Strong political will and leadership from national and local governments are essential to provide the necessary resources and support for successful urban transitions. 

Stakeholder Engagement and Living Lab Methodologies

The stakeholder engagement session emphasized the importance of comprehensive understanding in urban innovation, policymaking, and stakeholder engagement. It highlighted the need for innovative and inclusive approaches, gender equality, and the crucial role of Living Labs in addressing urban challenges and climate change mitigation. 

Continuous engagement and partnership across all levels of urban governance and community were stressed, encouraging platforms for dialogue, exchange of ideas, and co-creation to align urban development with the collective vision of the community. 

Key Takeaways and Recommendations

A unified approach among urban stakeholders was identified as crucial for the effective implementation of innovative strategies. The following recommendations emerged: 

  • Incorporate Social Equity: Cities should develop policies with a focus on gender equality and social equity, addressing diverse community needs. 
  • Embrace Living Lab Methodologies: Creative and inclusive methodologies should bridge the gap between policymaking and community engagement, encouraging innovative solutions in urban environments. 
  • Innovate in Resource Management: Local governments should explore new ways, including reformed taxation systems, to promote private sector involvement in renewable energy and overcome challenges in implementing sustainable energy action plans. 

The UTMC regional event brought together participants from various organizations, including the European Commission, the Urban Transitions Mission (UTM), EIT Urban Mobility, UfM, MedCities, CERTH, Eurocities, ENoLL, FFG, ISGlobal, Metropolis, and I2CAT. The collaborative efforts demonstrated a commitment to shaping the future of urban development through innovative and sustainable solutions. 

Continuous engagement and partnership across all levels of urban governance and community were stressed, encouraging platforms for dialogue, exchange of ideas, and co-creation to align urban development with the collective vision of the community. 

You can view the recordings of the sessions here: 

  1. Session II, Expert Panel – https://youtu.be/ZeNRWVr3kcs 
  1. Session II, City Panel – https://youtu.be/F_tKbtLCD7M 
  1. Session III, Policy Panel on Stakeholder Engagement – https://youtu.be/hW3wTx7_uME 

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